When my daughter played AYSO soccer at our local park, her GU-7 division invoked the "Alex" rule. She was only allowed to play forward for two quarters and after that, she had to play defense. When playing back, she was not allowed to cross the midfield line. All the coaches and refs knew that, regardless of her position, if she got her foot on the ball she was going to dribble down the field and score a goal.
Eleven year-old Demias Jimerson is so good he's not allowed to score either.
The 6th grade Malvern football prodigy has been slapped with a little-known rule inspired by former Arkansas Razorbacks star Madre Hill, who excelled while playing at the same Wilson Intermediate School years ago. According to Yahoo Rivals, the "Madre Hill Rule" limits Jimerson from scoring if he has already scored three touchdowns and his team is ahead by at least 14 points.
Jimerson doesn't have a physical advantage - he is the same size as the other kids on the field — but he has such speed and intuition that he scores almost every time he touches the ball; during one game before the rule was enforced he had seven touchdowns. Not surprisingly, his team is undefeated this season.
While schools and leagues don't typically hold back young stars, the rule is intended to keep the game fun for everyone.
In AYSO, teams are expected to adhere to a "No Slaughter" rule, which states that coaches should take appropriate actions so that neither team has more than a five goal differential.
Other sports have a similar policy called the "Mercy" rule" which prevents the winning team from running up the score while sparing the losing team the humiliation of suffering a more formal loss. We all know there is no "fair" in sports or life. There are always winners and losers. So can parents or school administrators regulate a game without consequences?
Fortunately for Jimerson, the Madre Hill rule is only for fifth and sixth grades. Next year, he goes to the seventh grade.
"I'm gonna run hard and bring our team to victory," said Jimerson when interviewed about the situation. Then he added, "but God always comes first, before anything, and grades second." The kid has his priorities straight: God, grades, and THEN touchdowns.
Check out the video from a local news report, via FOX 16, to see Jimerson's skills (and charisma) in action.
Do you think some kids should be held back on the playing field? Will it stifle their progress? In my daughter's case, her teammates eventually played to her level. Those with natural talent and a passion for the game worked hard to become more competitive players. By the time she transitioned to the club level, all the girls on the team were "stars." Rather than pandering to some of the players, coaches had the opportunity to teach more complex technical skills and game strategy. It's the difference between recreational and competitive sports and I think it's important for both kids and parents to understand the difference. It's unclear whether Jimerson's school makes the distinction, or whether he has the option of playing up or on a more competitive team. In the younger age divisions, there aren't always choices so what is the best solution?
dare to dream
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